Many national pride projects are faltering mainly due to lack of resources and land acquisition dispute, officials say.
The country’s long-running highly-prioritised road projects are facing implementation delays with their progress stagnating at less than 10 percent to just over 50 percent.
These include the Mid-Hill Highway, that connects Chiyo Bhanjyang of Panchthar district in the east to Jhulakhat of Bardiya district in the west, Hulaki Rajmarga (Postal Highway) connecting 20 districts in the inner Tarai region and the Kathmandu-Nijgadh Fast Track. Other major roads include the three north-south roads in the east, central and western parts of the country.
It took 12 years for the government to complete nearly 50 percent of 1,879km Mid-Hill Highway, also known as Pushpalal Highway, word on which started in the fiscal year 2007-08. It was supposed to be completed by the fiscal year 2017-18.
“The lack of resources to compensate for acquired land, the delay in completing environment impact assessment and forest clearance and the lack of timely availability of construction materials due to absence of quarry sites are among the reasons the project got delayed,” the 47th report of the National Development Action Committee (NDAC) released in February said.
By the end of the fiscal year 2019-20, the project’s progress stood at just 49 percent with 914km road being blacktopped and 84 out of 129 bridges constructed.
Only 45 percent of the total estimated cost had been spent by that period. The revised estimated cost of the project is Rs101.5 billion. Now, the government plans to complete this project by the fiscal year 2022-23.
“There wasn’t enough budget in the initial years. Work gained momentum only in the last 3-4 years,” said Shivahari Sapkota, spokesperson at the Department of Roads. “We are on course to completing the project by the revised deadline, provided the Covid-19 crisis does not affect the construction works from this fiscal year.”